Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi unveiled a new jet fighter said to have comparable stealth capabilities comparable to the most advanced Western adversary aircraft. Dubbed “Checkmate,” the new aircraft was revealed Tuesday, July 20, at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon outside Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the unveiling and praised the new aerial weapon.
The aircraft is expected to make its first flight in 2023, and could enter service as early as 2026, according to Russian state corporation Rostec, which includes Sukhoi. Plans for variants include a two-seater and an unpiloted version.
The Checkmate is a so-called fifth-generation single-engine fighter. It will have a range of up to 1,864 miles and a top speed of Mach 1.8 to 2.0, and will be competitive with the U.S. F-35, according to Rostec. Russia’s other stealth effort, the Su-57, is a twin-engine aircraft and is also built by Sukhoi.
Rostec announced the new design will apply artificial intelligence technology among other advanced combat aids. Low cost is another asset Rostec cited as an attraction to potential third-party buyers from other countries.
The prospective Russian fighter jet appears intended to compete with the U.S. F-35 Lightning II fighter, which entered service in 2015.
Rolling out a mock-up and making a press release is easy. Being able to invest the money and time to build one of these in quantities in addition to the necessary infrastructure is something quite different. See Iran’s stealth fighter announcement from a few years ago 😉
For decades the public was told by various government boogieman agencies that the Russians had just developed the ultimate super plane and the US was about to fall behind – again. The reality was always far less threatening but it kept the money going to defense contractors. How soon can we expect the Pentagon, CIA, etc. to start the next round of alarmist propaganda about this new super weapon?
Clearly, this isn’t intended to be a “super plane”, it’s exactly what they advertise it as, an upgrade option for 2nd tier military buyers. Russia has a good, solid weapons industry and they would be dumb not to capitalize on it. Not only does it bring in trade income but “Russianizing” other armed forces’ hardware stable leads to future sales.
Positioning a plane against the F-35 doesn’t sound like you’re targeting 2nd tier buyers. And while Russia has historically had a “good, solid weapons industry”, they’re track record on 5th gen planes and stealth is checkered at best.
The F-35 isn’t a “super plane” either, and like Russia we are basically marketing it to whoever wants it. Unfortunately in spite of good intentions the F-35 has turned out so expensive the market is limited to the wealthiest countries.